Results tagged ‘ Hall of Fame Classic ’

Catch a Moment in Time

By Craig Muder

Less than 24 hours after Saturday’s Hall of Fame Classic, the sun fired up Doubleday Field for another perfect day in Cooperstown.

All that tangibly remained of the June 16 legends game were some lines in the dirt: Bert Blyleven’s spike marks on the mound, the outline of Military All-Star Ryan Hurtado’s diving catch on the left field warning track.

On Sunday morning families gathered at historic Doubleday Field to have an old-fashioned game of catch – a fitting treat for Father’s Day. (Carter Kegelman/National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

The echoes, however, still sounded.

Then, a new noise: The brushing of soles against the ground as parents, grandparents and children arrived for Sunday’s Family Catch. As the gates opened, they walked expectantly onto the grass, bringing with them the aroma of sun screen and leather gloves. Finding a space on the field, they began the ancient ritual of a game of catch.

Fathers and sons, moms and daughters, granddads and grandmas. It was a fitting Father’s Day scene in baseball’s hometown, where generations connect everyday.

Throughout Hall of Fame Classic Weekend – at Friday’s Youth Skills Clinic, at Saturday’s parade and game, at Sunday’s Family Catch at Doubleday Field – the National Pastime brought folks together, a centrifugal force that crosses time and culture. That force is what brings fans back to Cooperstown.

In five weeks, it will once again be on display for the world during the July 20-23 Hall of Fame Weekend. The moment will be for Barry Larkin and Ron Santo – the Class of 2012 – but the celebration will be for everyone who loves baseball.

Thank you, Cooperstown.

Craig Muder is the director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

The Kid in the Hall

By Jeff Idelson

I’ll never forget May 20th and 21st of 2011. 

I embarked on a 24-hour journey for an aspect of my job that is never comfortable and always sad: Attending a funeral.   

Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew had passed away in Arizona. After lunch with Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and their wives, as well as Bob Nightengale, my friend with USA Today, I headed back to the airport to take a redeye flight home.

As I sat on the flight and drifted off, I wondered what else could happen. Harmon’s passing was the last of six Hall of Famers who had passed away in the last year: Robin Roberts, Sparky Anderson, Bob Feller, Duke Snider and Dick Williams.

As I de-boarded my flight in Newark to change planes that next morning, May 21st, my phone began to ring. It was The Kid, and I smiled. I always looked forward to conversations with Gary Carter because he was so positive, so uplifting and had a zest for life.

This time, the call was different. 

Gary explained that he had been inventorying equipment with his coaches for Palm Beach Community College, where he was the head baseball coach. He told me he had lost count a few times and even snapped at some of his colleagues, and he did not know why. Very uncharacteristic of the most positive person I had come to know in Baseball.

I immediately thought about what I had been reading, about the recent rash of concussions in football. “I bet you have a concussion from all of those collisions you took,” I quickly blurted out, as if I could solve the problem. Gary waited patiently for me to finish and said, “No, it’s actually four tumors wrapped around my brain.” And then he quickly added, “But I am not scared, because I have my family around me and I am going to beat this.” 

And that was the essence of Gary Carter.

He fought gallantly with his family by his side, at every step. He went to Duke Medical Center to learn more. It was actually one tumor with four tentacles. And he could not have surgery: His cancer was inoperable. 

Gary called the next day.

“It’s inoperable, which is going to make this a little bit tougher, but I’ll beat this,” he told me confidently. “I have my family and my faith and with that, we’ll get through this, Jeffrey,” he said. “I plan to be at Hall of Fame Weekend to see everyone.”

It never happened.

Gary was so generous of time and spirit. He traveled to Cooperstown for the 2010 Hall of Fame Classic over Father’s Day Weekend and then to Cooperstown a month later for the induction of Andre Dawson, Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog.  That would be his last visit to the place he adored so much and the Classic was the final time he participated in a baseball game. The fans adored him.

“Gary was so proud to be a Hall of Famer,” his widow Sandy told me on the phone yesterday afternoon after letting me know of Gary’s peaceful passing. 

And “proud” sums up the Kid so well. He was proud of wearing a major league uniform for 19 seasons, of being a Hall of Famer, of his family and his friends. 

We lost a good one yesterday. Rest in Peace #8. We miss you.

Jeff Idelson is the president of the National Baseball  Hall of Fame and Museum.

Happy Holidays

By Samantha Carr

In the spirit of the Holidays, here is my baseball wish list:

10. Health and happiness to all baseball fans, players, and youth. That means fewer injuries for key players on my favorite team – and I guess yours too.

9. Lots of new artifacts from baseball history to be donated to our collection in Cooperstown. It is like Christmas morning all year long when we unwrap them.

8. For my all-time favorite player to get the 75% of the BBWAA vote and earn election to the Hall of Fame. I could get this good news soon – as he is on this year’s ballot!

7. New records, new feats and new faces for the upcoming baseball season. Who doesn’t love waking up each morning to follow a hitting streak or home run watch on the television baseball highlights? It just makes mornings easier.

6. Sunny weather – but not too hot – on July 22 in Cooperstown. Enough to make it warm and beautiful – but not turn me into a lobster.

5. A World Series Championship for my favorite team. Pretty, pretty please!

4. A fun weekend with my family while we watch as some of the game’s greatest play in the Hall of Fame Classic over Father’s Day Weekend. My family loved meeting Phil Niekro last year!

3. For the 2012 season to bring as much excitement in the second-half and postseason as 2011. I thought there couldn’t be a more exciting day than the last day of the regular season – then Game 6 of the World Series came along.

2. For a fun new year through programming and education at the Baseball Hall of Fame where we will welcome the newest additions to our family – Ron Santo and any other electees that come out of the BBWAA election on Jan. 9. My favorite time of year is when all the Hall of Famers are back home in Cooperstown.

1. I love the holidays, but once they are over, I hope for February to come quick so pitchers and catchers can report. Bring on Spring Training!

I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season – and get ready to PLAY BALL!

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall of Fame friend

By Craig Muder

The man with the glasses and the gray mustache walked beside me that Cooperstown afternoon, heading to a press
conference following his Hall of Fame Induction Speech.

“Mr. Williams, congratulations,” was all I could muster on that July 2008 day, less than one month into my new
job at the Hall of Fame.

“Thank you!” Dick Williams beamed back at me. “I never thought I would be here.”

Me either, Dick. Me either.

I didn’t know Dick Williams that well. After that first meeting, we’d bump into each other at Hall of Fame
Weekend or at the Hall of Fame Classic. But there will always be a connection between me and this one-of-a-kind manager.

First, there was his book. Published in 1990, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” – by Williams with Bill Plaschke – became one of my favorite looks inside the game. Williams pulled no punches, recounting his career and family life in startling detail.

Growing up in the 1970s, I had not thought kindly of Williams, who always seemed a bit harsh. But after reading
his life story, I found a deep respect for a man whose passion for winning produced great triumph – and sometimes heartache.

So on July 27, 2008, I found myself escorting a man I felt I knew like a friend. It calmed me, soothed me… in
the face of great nervousness as I began my dream job in Cooperstown.

It was like coming home.

Dick, you may not have known this, but you’ll always have a special place in my heart.

Your memory lives on in the place where history remains forever young: Cooperstown.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Forty years ago, Rick Wise made history

By Bill Francis

Rick Wise was the starting second baseman for The Knucksies in the 2011 Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday, but exactly 40 years ago today he was the toast of baseball.

On June 23, 1971, the 25-year-old Wise pitched a no-hitter and added two home runs to lead the visiting Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-0 over the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. In his nine-inning stint, the righty faced just 28 batters, walked one (Dave Concepcion with one out in the sixth inning), struck out two, and raised his record to 8-4 on the way to a 17-win season.

After serving as an instructor during Saturday’s Legends for Youth Skills Clinic at Doubleday Field, Wise talk about that memorable day from four decades ago.

“I was coming off the flu and I felt very weak,” said Wise, after taking a seat in the third base dugout. “And it was hot, too. It was Cincinnati and the heat was coming off the carpet there. Man, it was smoking. But I think it sweated it out of me. I remember warming up and it seemed like the ball was stopping about halfway to the catcher. I said to myself, ‘Man, I better locate my pitches because this team with Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez can do some severe damage with their hitters.’

“But I had a good tempo and they were putting the ball in play early. I only made 94 pitches that day and it has an hour and 53 minutes. And only six balls were hit out of the infield, and I wasn’t a groundball pitcher either. I was a fly ball pitcher.”

Now 65, Wise ended his 18-year big league playing career in 1982 before embarking on a couple dozen seasons as a coach at almost every level of baseball before retiring in 2008. Sporting a ring given to members of the 1975 American League champion Boston Red Sox (Wise was the wining pitcher in Game 6 of the ’75 World Series in which Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk hit his memorable home run), he delighted in stating that he is one of the few people to appear in a Little League World Series, a Babe Ruth League World Series and Major League Baseball World Series. 

Proud of his hitting, Wise finished the 1971 season twice hitting two home runs in a game.

“But that was the National League game. My first nine years were in the National League – seven with the Phillies and two with the Cardinals – and I had 15 home runs after nine years,” Wise recalled.  “Then I went to the American League for six years and never picked up a bat again. My final team was San Diego but by that time my skills were completely diminished as far as hand-eye coordination.”

According to Wise, when he was coaching in the New York-Penn League, he brought his Auburn, N.Y. team from nearby Oneonta to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and donated from his no-hitter game the bat, his glove and a ball to the Cooperstown institution. The bat can currently be seen in the Museum’s newest exhibit, One for the Books: Baseball Record and the Stories Behind Them.

Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Baseball’s Happiest Place on Earth

By Trevor Hayes

I spent most of my morning chatting with MLB.com’s Marty Noble at the MLBPAA Skills Clinic at Doubleday Field.

As we walked the field, it was filled with smiling faces. The kids were having a wonderful time as they moved from station to station interacting with and learning from Jim Hannan, Jon Warden, John Doherty, Don Demola, Steve Grilli and the other MLB Player Alumni on the field. Many of these MLBPAA alumni had retired even before these kids were born, but for the kids, each of the players was a star.

Several former All-Stars were also instructors. Rick Wise and Bill “Spaceman” Lee were working on pitching mechanics in the right field corner. Dave Henderson – wearing his large gold World Series ring from 1989 – was talking hitting in shallow center.

“Always remember that Dave Henderson taught you to kiss each shoulder,” he’d say, showing the proper follow through of a swing. Before long though, his station always became baseball chatter. It was a chance for him to talk with the younger generation about the game, moving from Derek Jeter’s chance at 3,000 to dealing with making an out (“You’re going to make them, because the game has to end sometime.”) to showing off his ring – to the delight of many of the youngsters who’d never seen one.

One young ballplayer in Grilli’s base running station may have summed up the atmosphere best. Grilli said, “We’re in Cooperstown, but what is Cooperstown?” One youngster quickly shouted out “It’s baseball!”

Truly baseball was alive at Doubleday this morning and it’s as vibrant as the pop of all the mitts in Doherty’s catch station – where players worked the basics of throwing and catching a ball. “We’re working on playing catch instead of playing fetch,” he’d say before each of the groups began.

Once the clinic ended, each young ballplayer got one last chance to shake hands with the Major Leaguers before getting a sheet with their autographs. While we watched the kids go through the line, Noble started laughing. I asked him what he was laughing about and he said, “One of the kids just gave you guys a great marketing line. He said, ‘This place is like Disneyland for baseball.’”

That’s what Cooperstown feels like during the summer, especially during our big events like Classic and Induction Weekend. It’s Disneyland for baseball fans.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Glanville’s journey

By Samantha Carr

Growing up playing Strat-O-Matic, waffle ball and stick ball, Doug Glanville learned to love the game of baseball from his brother.

“I give a lot of credit to my brother for teaching me the game and developing a passion for the game that I still have today,” said Glanville.

With his slight frame and athletic build, fans could easily believe that this was the same player who stole 168 bases during his nine-year major league career. Glanville will show off that speed when he takes the field along with six Hall of Famers and 20 other former major leaguers for the Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday.

But on Friday, fans got to listen to Glanville share stories from his life and career that are written in his book, The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer’s Inside View during an Authors’ Series event at the Hall of Fame.

Glanville, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an engineering degree which he finished up after being drafted his junior year of college, currently writes a column for the New York Times called “Heading Home,” works for ESPN and is on the Executive Board of Athletes Against Drugs. He played for the Cubs, Phillies and Rangers from 1996-2004.

“Heading Home” was really a human column that gained a lot of positive feedback and sparked the book deal. The book focuses on real elements like Glanville playing through his father’s illness and the transition that ballplayers make when they finish their career and go back to the real world.

“That transition is the moment you realize the game is no longer an option, or you choose to make a change form what everyone around you knows you for,” said Glanville. “I like to say it is when chasing the dream becomes running from the nightmare. And for ballplayers retirement happens at like 34 or 35, so they have to mature a lot faster in a kid’s game.”

Glanville has successfully made that transition. He will be chasing around his 3-year-old at home when he hears from friends that are still in the game.

“My challenges are a little different from Jimmy Rollins – who is trying to hit a slider,” he said.

Now, Glanville wants to see the human element come back to baseball. And on Father’s Day, he will entertain the crowd with his skills for families to enjoy.

“My goal is to share my human experience. So inspire people by being human,” he said. “That is the best thing about this game, you don’t have to be a superhero to play it – it can give everyone possibility.”

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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